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What Happens If I Miss The 2018 Medicare Open Enrollment Period?

Like all things medical (or Federal), Medicare enrollment can be complicated. The open enrollment period, during which you can switch back and forth between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans or enroll in Medicare if you did not enroll originally, is October 15 through December 7. (These dates are now the same for every year, even if they were not in the past.) You can make multiple switches between Medicare Advantage Plans in this period; this is the only length of time in which you can make more than one change per enrollment period.

What if you miss the assigned period and are not enrolled by December 7? Unless you are in one of the situations listed under “Exceptions” below, you will have to wait until January 1 through March 31 of the next year. During that January 1 – March 31 period, you can enroll in Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan, or, starting in 2019, you can switch your Medicare Advantage plan. (Only one change is allowed in this period, in contrast to the October 15 – December 7 Open Enrollment period.) Your coverage will begin on July 1 of the year you enroll.


There are a few exceptions. You can enroll in either Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan during the three months before you turn 65, that month, and the three months after that. (This is called the “initial enrollment period.”) If you are employed and choose not to sign up for Medicare, you have a “Special Enrollment Period” that begins your last day of employment or when your employer-provided health benefits end, whichever comes first. Your Special Enrollment period ends eight months after the earlier of those dates.

Effects of Late Enrollment

If you do not enroll in Medicare Part B (which covers doctor and other medical expenses, but not hospital care) when you are first eligible, your Part B monthly premium will increase from the current $134 per month, by ten percent for each twelve-month period you could have been enrolled but were not. The increased premium for late enrollment also applies to Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs.

Summing Up:

Unless you are covered by an employer-provided health care plan, your wisest approach is to enroll in Parts A, B, and D of Original Medicare, or a Medicare Advantage plan, as soon as you are eligible. Doing anything else risks exposing yourself to medical costs needlessly.

To learn more about Medicare Open Enrollment Period, contact the experts at at 844-374-1950. Our licensed insurance professionals are standing by to answer any questions you may have.